Deleted Scenes

  Deleted Scene #1:
~Eight Years Old~

    The sea breeze blew Emma’s loose blonde waves across her face and she swiped them away impatiently. She shoved a determined bare foot onto the railing at the bow and wrapped her arms around the carved mermaid’s shoulders, trying to be taller. She wasn’t sure how tall she was compared to other eight-year-old girls since she didn’t know any, but she was a far cry shorter than any of the men on the ship, which made it difficult to see much of the horizon. This spot enabled Emma to be almost as tall as Taggart, she thought with triumph. Skuggs would have let her up in the crow’s nest with Magerby if she’d asked, but she didn’t want help—she wanted to spot it on her own. She had resolved to shout, “Land ho!” before Magerby did and hoped being in the front of the ship would give her an advantage. 

    They would weigh anchor at a Croyzen port today. It was clear enough that she might be able to see the Osnaian coast just north of Croyze. She’d seen it on her maps, of course, and noticed how, all the way across the Alayan Sea, the Hemmish coastline looked as if it could fit right into it. There was a legend that thousands of years ago, the two countries had been one—that the entire western coast of the Alayan Sea had fit into the eastern side. But the two sides became so different that they began to fight incessantly. They had been warned three times already by the Birds of Ulinoor that if they did not stop there would be consequences, but they wouldn’t listen. The great Lion of Urdegoode had flown down from the sky and whipped his tail on the ground between them until it cracked, and they floated apart little by little until they were far enough that they couldn’t fight anymore. 

    At least, not until they invented ships. Emma rather thought the Lion ought to have thought of that. Because Osna and Hemland had been at war for three years now, and that had started only ten years after the last one had ended. Some solution.

    Emma pushed the hair out of her face again, wishing for the thousandth time the captain would let her just cut it all off. Taggart, who had long hair himself, had taught her how to tie it back, but she couldn’t be bothered to do it every single day. It was making it very hard to see anything, much less spot a tiny dot of land.

    “Land ho!” came the call across the brigantine. 

    “Sham and fackle!” Emma cursed, smacking the mermaid figurehead’s shoulder in frustration. 

    “I guess I should tell the crew to watch their language around you,” came a deep voice behind her. The corners of Emma’s lips pulled down into a grimace as she turned to face the captain. He stood with hands behind his back, in his eyes a gentle, knowing reprimand.

     “Sorry,” Emma muttered, her eyes on the deck. “I didn’t know anyone was listening.” 

     The captain didn’t say anything and she risked bringing her eyes back up to his. Was there a smile hidden behind that considering look? He held out a hand to help her jump down from her perch, which she took. When her feet were back on the deck he said, “We make port today, as I see you are aware. Any special requests?”

     “Well, I’ve finished all my new books,” Emma hinted.

     Now his smile was obvious. “All right, I’ll do my best to find a good one. Perhaps a thicker one so it’ll last a little longer. And a new dress, I think?” 

     Emma looked down at her sun-bleached seafoam green dress, which had been a deep emerald when he’d presented her with it not six months ago. It was now stained and torn in several places.

     She bit her lip in guilt, but the captain just smiled. “What color dress would you like? Blue?”

     Emma nodded. “Blue.”

     “And a scone?” His thick eyebrows rose knowingly. 

     “Yes, please.” Emma couldn’t help a smile. He never forgot to bring her favorite treat back. 

     “Consider it done.” The captain gave Emma a small bow. 

     “Thank you, Captain.” Emma bowed back, enjoying their game.

     “And Emma,” He eyed her seriously now. “You will stay on the ship, right? No attempts at sneaking off this time?” His eyes held warning.

     Emma pursed her lips, willing all the words to stay in her mouth, and gave a curt nod. 

     “Please try to understand. It’s for your safety.”

     She nodded quickly. 

     An hour later, Emma watched the crew load the baskets, trunks, and crates of goods to sell or trade onto wooden carts. Then they began rolling them down the gangplank without her once again. She told her feet to stay. Reminded them that she’d told the captain she wouldn’t try to sneak off again. That she would get in trouble. She told her feet that the captain probably did have a good reason for the rule. Her feet itched, ignoring her. The sun beat down on her head of fully unkempt blonde hair, and she shifted fisting her hands in the cotton skirt of her simple dress. She should stay. She would stay.

     But her feet just wouldn’t listen. 

     She sidled up to the carts, pretending interest in their contents. Her curiosity was nothing new to the crew, and they mostly ignored her. 

     “Lookin’ to buy somethin’, lass?” Skuggs asked, a bounce in his voice that was appropriate for his rotund figure. 

     Emma tried to look as nonchalant as possible as she gave a half-shrug. “Maybe.” 

     Skuggs raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I know that look of mischief. Don’t think yeh can fool yer old Skuggs, do yeh?” He winked at her and she noticed he’d grown a few more white hairs in his eyebrows. 

     “I don’t know what you mean.” Emma thought her voice sounded natural, but she might have been blinking more than normal. Had Skuggs noticed?

     “I mean I think you’re plannin’ to get inside on of these here baskets so yeh can get off the ship and go pick out yer own apple from the market square.”

     Sham and fackle. Emma groaned and felt her shoulders sag. “Fine. I’ll just be in my cabin, doing nothing…” she said in her most pathetic voice.

     “Aw, chin up, lass. Old Skuggs’ll bring you somethin’ special.”

     Emma continued her pout. “This port’s really not to your likin’ anyway. S’just smelly old men sellin’ the strangest, nastiest vegetables you’ve ever seen.”

     “Then how will you get me ‘somethin’ special’? I suppose it’ll be a ‘nasty vegetable’?” she said in just the same Vochurgian accent as Skuggs had. He laughed in surprise as if he hadn’t heard her do the same thing numerous times. Emma could sound like just about anyone. 

     “How do yeh do that, lass? Amazin’,’ it is.” He shook his head in wonder, his gap-toothed smile one of the most familiar things in the world to her. She simply shrugged. She didn’t know how she did it. She just did.   

     “Suppose,” she began with trepidation, “suppose I just got in one of the crates on your cart, and just watched from there? You could keep an eye on me the whole time, and I promise I wouldn’t move a muscle. I’d just peek through the slats. I wouldn't even make a sound. And”— she dropped her voice to a whisper—“I wouldn’t tell the captain.” 

     Skuggs looked at her pityingly, which she normally hated but thought in the moment might work to her advantage. She tried to make her eyes look big and innocent.

     “Yeh know I can’t do that, lass. I want yeh to be able to see the world as much as you do, but, well, there are things at work yeh don’t understand, little one. Not to mention the captain would have my head. And then who would tell yeh all the constellation stories, eh?”

     Her shoulders sank a little further as she came to accept, once again, that she’d never leave the Devil’s Storm. Once she’d made it halfway down the gangplank before getting caught, merely because she’d started running before anyone knew she was going to try. Another time, she’d made it halfway to a market square inside a crate before Taggart discovered her. But she couldn’t remember the last time she’d stood on land.

     She couldn’t remember not being on this ship.

     And something about that didn’t feel right. 

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